Preparation for the Entire Family

“Teach them faithfully to your children; speak of them in your home and on your way...”
(Deuteronomy 6:6-7)

Learning together!

Preparation for becoming Bar or Bat Mitzvah extends to the entire family. Many families find the Bar/Bat Mitzvah year to be a time of learning together and joint accomplishment. At Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, we encourage each family to make this time one of joy and discovery, to look for ways to make the Bar/Bat Mitzvah experience spiritual and not stressful. For that reason we believe that the Bar/Bat Mitzvah should be thought of as a family celebration in every sense.

Deepening Your Bar or Bat Mitzvah Experience
We encourage you and your family to approach the Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation process as an opportunity for learning in other ways as well. Service learning, communal participation, and individual/family study can all be powerful. We encourage you to explore and participate in the opportunities listed below. The rabbis and cantors are happy to discuss these offerings with you and to hear about your experiences.  

Here are three categories that will deepen your Bar/Bat Mitzvah experience. Take advantage of some or all of these opportunities:

  1. Mitzvah Project
    A Mitzvah project consists of doing Tikkun Olam (mending the world) through community service
    or social justice work. There are different ways of approaching Mitzvah projects. The rabbis and
    cantors are happy to consult with you to help choose a project. You may volunteer for
    opportunities that are offered by BHC or by your school. You may pursue projects on your own or
    with other students. Individual projects might take one of two forms:

    a. One big or medium project. Past Bar/Bat Mitzvah students have organized collections,   volunteered on an ongoing basis for an existing organization, led fundraising for a cause or  organization, or lobbied elected officials regarding an important issue. There are many
    possibilities for you to be creative with a project.
    b.    Several small one-time projects. You may wish to experience a range of different volunteer
    opportunities, such as volunteering in a soup kitchen, ushering at BHC services, preparing a
    casserole as part of our ongoing congregational project, helping with the elderly, etc.
    Mitzvah projects may be mentioned in the D’var Torah that you write and deliver during your
    Bar/Bat Mitzvah.
    2.  Community
    BHC tries to organize a number of community Bar/Bat Mitzvah experiences in the years leading
    up to your celebration. These experiences will help you build relationships with other students,
    with other families, and with the clergy and staff. They also provide opportunities for you to
    better understand Judaism, your personal Jewish identity and the meaning of your Bar/Bat
    Mitzvah experience. For your Bar/Bat Mitzvah years, BHC community offerings may include:

    a. Parsha Party - This is where you receive your Bar/Bat Mitzvah dates, meet our clergy and
    learn about the Bar/Bat Mitzvah process.

    b. Bar/Bat Mitzvah Family Retreat -We go deeper into explanations of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah
    experience and begin studying Torah portions .

    c. Mitzvah experiences, movie nights, and/or Shabbat Brunches (kiddushes) following services
    d. Youth Group and other informal Jewish activities

    e. Jewish Summer camp. The rabbis would love to talk to you about this great and fun way to
    experience Judaism.
    Experience has shown that the greater your level of participation in these organized activities, the
    more meaningful your Bar/Bat Mitzvah can be. We encourage you to participate, learn, and enjoy.

    3. Personal and Family Jewish Exploration
    These years are wonderful opportunities for you to explore Judaism beyond your formal Jewish       
    education. This is a great time to learn about your family history, about your congregation,
    and to enjoy participating in Jewish activities. Here are some suggestions; the rabbis and
     cantors would be happy to suggest more:

    a. Attend services. It will help you become familiar with the prayers and
    connect you with BHC. It may also raise questions about Jewish belief
    and tradition, which is a wonderful learning opportunity.

    b. Research your name, both Hebrew and English. Who are you named for and what do your
    names mean?

    c.  Celebrate Shabbat by lighting candles and reciting the Kiddush and Motzi on Friday night.
    If you don’t already do this regularly, leading up to your Bat/Bat Mitzvah is a great time
    to try this beautiful Jewish practice.

    d. Read a Jewish book or see a Jewish movie, then discuss it with your parents or with a
    rabbi or cantor.

    e. Recite the Motzi before your main family meal for a week, a month, or indefinitely.

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